Monthly Archives: November 2018

Paralysis Through Analysis

One of the things that I see so many of us run into is paralysis through analysis. What I mean by that is that we feel like we need more information in order to act. When we don’t feel like we have all the information we need, we stall or make excuses as to why we can’t do what we need to. Because we live in the Information Age, we know there is always more information that we can acquire in order to make the best decision. The problem is that our need for information has replaced our ability to act in faith.

We all grew up hearing the words, “Ready. Set. Go.” As a people of faith, I believe God often is asking us to skip those first two words and simply go. Our comfort is in the getting ready and getting set, but we’ve learned to live in those areas without going. The truth is that we will never feel like we’re ready when we are acting in faith. To feel like we need more information, skills or tools means we are trying to do it in our own power and not in God’s. We’ve got to learn to let go of those security blankets and trust that we already have what we just need to “Go”,

Colossians 2:6 says, “My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given” (MSG). It’s time for you and I to quit staying where we are trying to get ready. We need to step out with what we’ve been given and let God provide what we lack. Remember God doesn’t always call the most equipped people, but He does equip those He calls. It’s time to move forward with what you have. Break out of the paralysis through analysis, step out in faith and trust God to step in. That’s what faith is all about.

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Feed Your Soul

Brian Tracy, who is a leader in the field of sales, says, Your outer world will always reflect your inner world.” He’s saying that no matter how much we try to mask what is going on inside of us, it will always find its way to the surface. It’s hard to produce positive results if you’re a mess inside. He believes you should work on your mental health first before you try to correct any outward behavior. Many people go through life trying to repair the fruit of the problem without trying to correct the root of the problem first. That’s a losing battle because the fruit will keep showing up until you deal with the root.

I believe the same thing is true of us spiritually. Many of us spend a ton of money and time addressing the physical aspect of our lives while neglecting the spiritual aspect. One of these will live forever, and one will turn back into dust. We must learn to feed our spirit by reading the Word of God, praying, going to church, having fellowship with other believers and exercising our faith. Imagine trying to run a marathon without hydrating or feeding your body. It would collapse, yet we try to do this to our soul all the time.

In Proverbs 4:23, Solomon wrote, “Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life” (TPT). How can you continue to care for the needs of others, being life for them when they need it, if you don’t take care of the well inside of you? You and I have a deep well of life giving water inside of us that God wants us to draw from so we can bless others, but we must learn to care for it and ourselves first. If you’re dry and empty inside, it’s difficult to pour out anything of substance to others. Feed your soul, then feed others.

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Giving God’s Gifts

It’s hard to believe Christmas is just around the corner. Since we were children, we have been taught to anticipate getting gifts. If you were like my brothers and me, you would try to take a peak at them early. It was hard to see them there every day, and to live with that anticipation. Then on Christmas morning, the fun would begin when we could go outside and use those gifts so the neighbors could see. Whether it was a bike, a walkie-talkie or a new football, the greatest part of the gift was putting it to use.

Every one of us has been given gifts by God. Some of the gifts we receive when we ask for them and others are given to us to help us accomplish His will for our life. When you know what your gifts are, it’s important to use them for the benefit of others. They weren’t given to you to keep for yourself. When you use them for others, you revive the blessings that come from giving. Don’t be stingy with your gifts. Give and it shall be given to you. The more you give them for the benefit of others, the more God can trust you with His gifts.

Here are some verses on the gifts God gives.

1. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

1 Peter 4:10 NLT

2. May all the gifts and benefits that come from God our Father, and the Master, Jesus Christ, be yours.

1 Corinthians 1:3 MSG

3. For example: The Spirit gives to one the gift of the word of wisdom. To another, the same Spirit gives the gift of the word of revelation knowledge. And to another, the same Spirit gives the gift of faith. And to another, the same Spirit gives gifts of healing. And to another the power to work miracles. And to another the gift of prophecy. And to another the gift to discern what the Spirit is speaking. And to another the gift of speaking different kinds of tongues. And to another the gift of interpretation of tongues. Remember, it is the same Holy Spirit who distributes, activates, and operates these different gifts as he chooses for each believer.

1 Corinthians 12:8-11 TPT

4. Wisdom is a gift from a generous God, and every word he speaks is full of revelation and becomes a fountain of understanding within you.

Proverbs 2:6 TPT

5. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God [that is, His remarkable, overwhelming gift of grace to believers] is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

ROMANS 6:23 AMP

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Under God’s Press

As many of you know, I went back to Israel this past summer. One of the most visited places in Jerusalem has to be the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s filled with Olive trees as pictured here. On this trip, I discovered that the name Gethsemane means the olive press. We got to see an olive press to understand how it crushes the olives to make oil. That first pressing of the Olive is holy and belongs to God. I think that’s important to know when considering what happened there the night before Jesus was crucified.

Matthew 26 tells us that Jesus went there with the disciples and that grief and anguish came over Him. In verse 38, Jesus said, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me” (GNT). He was being pressed like an olive in that moment. His prayer in the next verse is what I want to focus on today. He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.”

Each of us have times in our lives when we are being crushed by problems and things going on. Just like Jesus, our first instinct is to pray, “Father, if it’s possible, get me out of this!” We cry and we pray for God to help us. But what if God wants to use that time to create a holy offering in your life? What if He is allowing you to be crushed so what’s inside comes out? I’m sure the olives in the press don’t appreciate the stone mill rolling over them, but what comes out is more useful than just the olive by itself.

Jesus understood this. That’s why His next breath was, “Yet not what I want, but what you want.” Instead of praying for God to get us out of the press, ask God that His will be done instead of ours. James 1:12 says, “Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him.” Remaining under the press, like Jesus did, is the way to receive the life God promises us.

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Fighting Peer Pressure

I was in a meeting when a group of coworkers decided to go downtown for dinner and to check out the night life despite being told by our supervisors not to. They were asking one guy to go with them and he said, “I don’t like to be out late. I’m a bear when I don’t get my sleep.” They continued to pressure him until finally he agreed. They all cheered and he smiled sheepishly. The group then turned to me and said, “Let’s go! Are you in?” Matter of factly I said, “No.” The leader of the group said, “Well, that was definitive.” He turned to the group and asked what time everyone wanted to leave.

Peer pressure isn’t something that only kids face. We as adults are exposed to it almost daily. Most of it is harmless, but there are those moments when it’s trying to get you to sin. I’ve learned that disobedience likes company. It’s a way of justifying your desires that are counter productive to what God wants you to do. If more people are doing it, then it’s the popular opinion and we must be misinterpreting God. That kind of peer pressure is what got Adam and Eve to sin.

Proverbs 1:10 says, “When peer pressure compels you to go with the crowd and sinners invite you to join in, you must simply say, ‘No!’” (TPT) If you haven’t decided before a situation arises how you are going act or what you’re going to say, it becomes increasingly difficult to respond the right way. We need to purpose in our hearts to say, “No” when temptation comes. We must be firm and have a desire to please God more than man. Remember that peer pressure only works when they think you can be influenced to go along with the crowd. Ask God today to help you stand firm in the areas where you normally give in.

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Active Duty

When God spoke to us about changing churches, we weren’t happy about it. At the new church we would come in late and leave early to avoid connecting with people. We did this for about nine months. Then the pastor reached out and wanted to go to lunch. At the lunch, he said, “I want you to know that I know you’re in our church. If you’re here to heal and want to move on, that’s fine. If you’re only here temporarily and want to move to another church, I can help you find one. If you’re going to stay here, let me know when you’re ready to get engaged. Whatever you and God decide, I’ll support.”

It was very impactful for me because he wasn’t just acknowledging I was there. He was calling me off of the sidelines and telling me that wherever I went I was going to have to get active again. When I was ready to get active again, I let him know. He had me meet with the executive pastor to see where I would fit best. He said, “We have a lot of places we could plug you into, but we want to find the right fit for you.” We met several times before finding a place. They were putting 1 Thessalonians 5:14 into practice.

It says, “We appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, to instruct those who are not in their place of battle. Be skilled at gently encouraging those who feel themselves inadequate. Be faithful to stand your ground. Help the weak to stand again. Be quick to demonstrate patience with everyone” (TPT). Each of us have a place on the battlefield with a job to do. At times, every one of us will feel inadequate and we need help standing. If you’re there now, surround yourself with those who will help you. If you see someone else in that place, reach out and help them. We are to help each other reach our potential and to do our part in the Kingdom work.

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Forgiving One Another

Several years ago I reconnected with a person that went to my high school. I watched silently as they posted pictures of the ministry they were doing. Inside, i would think, “What’s their game? Who are they trying to fool?” I had seen this person play the part of a Christian, but could tell they were faking it. Fast forward twenty years later and I felt like they were still faking it. I watched them for almost a year as they kept updating about their ministry. Each time it would burn me up. One day as I was stewing over it, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Why are you holding their past against them? Do I do that to you?”

I can tell you that was an humbling experience. God reminded me that as a person, I only look at the outside of a person, but He looks on the inside to see the true intent. I finally reached out to this person and found out that God changed their life in college. After they shared their testimony, I confessed how I had felt and what God spoke to me. From that point, I began to look for ways to partner with them in the ministry they were doing. Once I forgave them for their past, I was free for God to use me as well.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love” (TPT). Many of us are guilty of holding something against someone because of something they’ve done in the past. As believers, we must forgive them or we withhold our own forgiveness. If the depths of Christ’s love can cover any sin, we too must learn to forgive in the same manner. Who knows what our unforgiveness is keeping us from? Even if the relationship isn’t reconciled, forgiveness is our path forward in Christ.

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